Tigers practice report from March 11th

Our intrepid reporter, Chris Miller, offers his first eyes and ears report from the Tigers' spring practice facilities.

I was able to get down to my first practice this afternoon.  First off, let me give out a thank you to Chad Moeller for letting me into practice so I could do this report.  It was a nice sunny day for football when the practice began here in Columbia.  I tried to spend most of the day concentrating on the defense, so that will be the majority of the report.  This was my first time at a practice, and I found the timing and mechanics of the practice to be very interesting.  I assume most people are like myself and have never attended a practice, so I will try and lay the practice out on a time line so you can all get a feel for how a practice is run.  So here we go.

3:20 pm
D-Backs & Linebackers working on making calls and reads and dropping into coverage.
O & D Lineman Stretch and do calisthenics.
QB, WR & RB's run routes and throw balls

The first thing I noticed is that Overstreet is not with the QB's.  He has apparently been moved to FS.  He was shadowing M. King in this drill.  He always looked small with the QB's, but he is actually bigger then the other free safeties.  I like the move because Coleman, Riccio & Hibbits looked pretty solid.  Overstreet looks like a very good athlete that we need to find a useful place for.

3:35  Horn blows.
Linebackers and safeties catch balls thrown at them while running at the coach.
D-Backs take the ball off the foot of a punter while running by.
Linemen work on technique in pairs of two.

I watched the Backers and Safeties on this drill.  Harrington has pretty good hands.  Morris also showed pretty good hands.  When the coach put some zip on the
ball, this one was not too pretty.  Let's just say there is a reason these guys are not receivers.

3:45  Horn blows.
Team comes together as a whole to stretch.  They line up by position. 

Nash looks like a big time RB is supposed to (in my mind at least).  He has thick legs, big arms and is pretty compact.  In the Emmit Smith/Barry Sanders body
mold.  His knee didn't appear to have any flexibility issues.  Kinney might have the biggest/best afro I have ever seen.  It has to stand a full 1-2 feet off his head.  Gooden looks like a linebacker, he has really filled out.  Ming is a fire-plug.  That is one compact ball of muscle.  Morris is in the same mold as Ming, just a hair taller.  Those two are by far the thickest of the backers.  Hibbits looks tiny compared
to the other three QB's.  Overstreet was not stretching in the QB line, he was with the safeties.

3:55  Horn blows.
Punt coverage team
QB, WR & RB's not involved with the punt coverage run routes.
O & D linemen that are not on the punt team work on technique.

Outlaw, Omboga & James were working out as return men. Mitchell, King, Harden, Nino & Overstreet work out as the gunners.  Overstreet and Mitchell can really fly
down the field.

4:05  Horn blows.
Lineman, Linebackers and D-Backs divide up and work on quickness and tackling drills.

Curry is moving very well.  No sign of any lingering problems.  Overstreet and Nino Williams are noticeably good athletes among the D-Backs.  Deke is by far the
largest of the Whip/Rovers.  He looks like a man among boys in that group.  Barry Odom is working with the Linebackers.  Kinney is limping very badly.  Must be a pretty bad sprain.  He isn't bending it at all.

4:20  Horn blows.
D-lineman work on speed and agility drills D-Backs and WR's work one on one while the QB's throw to them.

None of the D-lineman can run like Brian Smith.  Of course they all out weigh him by 40 or more pounds. The guy can really move though.  Smith looks very lean and tall, but doesn't look that much smaller then Bynum did last season to me.  Ellison is also
impressive.  He can really move for a big man.  Ellison and Mosely are two bad looking duds.  Ville is also a very impressive looking big man. 

Of the QB's, Coleman looks like he might have the strongest arm of the bunch.  He isn't nearly as accurate as Brad Smith, but he can really rip it when he wants to. 

Crosby made a very nice catch for a TD vs. Harden.

4:30  Horn blows.
O & D lineman get together. Everyone else is involved in a passing drill.

Omboga catches everything.  He looks the best of the WR's today.  Nino lays the lumber to JD McCoy and separates him from the ball.  He kind of stands over him for just a second looking down at him, then a coach runs in and makes him help McCoy up.  Nino is not afraid to stick his nose in there and stick someone. 

Coleman again appears to have the strongest arm to me.  Haven't seen a great deal of touch though. 

The TE's are very involved in this drill.  I don't know it this is a sign of things to come or if this was just the day to work on TE's.  Time will tell I suppose.  Nino dropped an easy pick off a Riccio pass, but he is looking like a play maker in this drill. 

Crosby fumbled and got a real ear full.  Hibbits' release is clearly the slowest of the four.  He kinda starts low and slings it.  He is very good on the roll though.

Deke is running with the first unit.  Overstreet also spends some time with the first unit.  He ran a lot with all three units.  It looks like they are really trying to get him plenty of reps at FS.

4:45  Horn blows.
O vs. D minus the WR's and CB's.  Time to work on running the ball.
Riccio throws to WR's vs. the CB's

Abron breaks free and nearly kills Nino when he comes up from FS to try and make the stop (better get lower son).  But again, he is not afraid to stick his nose in.  Abron and the first team O-line look very good.  The first team D is competitive vs. the first team O, but the second and third team just got punished.  Deke runs second team in this drill.

4:55  Horn blows.
Field goal team.
D-backs do agility and movement drills.  Pass coverage stuff. Receivers run routes with QB's. D-lineman drill.

Both Peterson and Matheny looked good.  Peterson showed a much stronger leg then the showed last season.

5:00  Horn blows.
Full offense vs. defense in passing situations.

Deke is back with the first unit.  Crosby, Britt and Omboga running with the first unit offense.  Outlaw, Coffey and James are all in red jerseys and not participating though.  Curry gets a big hit in this set.  Hibbits again looks much better on the move and outside the pocket. 

5:10  Horn blows.
Full team D vs. O on running plays. Deke is back with the second unit and Scott is running first.  Deke made a nice play in the backfield vs. the second string offense.  First team D held their own.

5:20  Horn blows.
QB's by themselves. The rest of the team is involved in a hitting drill. A lot of hitting and a ton of emotion, especially the big boys.  They line up one on one between two mats and go at it.  Whoever gets pushed backwards loses.

5:30  Horn blows.
Full O vs. D. They work on situations.  Someone yells out a down and distance before each play.  The defense looks ok, but the first team offense clearly appears to be better.  I have to remind myself that this might be one of the best O's in the Big 12 though.  Outlaw is clearly the emotional leader even though he is not playing.  He is
always the first guy to high five after a nice play.  Very vocal and upbeat guy.  Howard made a nice catch for a first down with the first unit.

5:40  Horn blows.
The ball is placed on the 25 and the full squads go at it. First team D gets three plays and  forces Brad to get rid of the ball on a nice blitz on the first play.  They give up a 5yd gain to Starks and a 7yd completion by Hibbits on the next two.  The second team D came on and gave up a 25 yd TD to Omboga on a screen pass from Brad.  He made a heck of a nice run after the catch.  Omboga is looking GOOD!!!  The second team stopped the O dead on the next two plays.  Then the third team
came in and did pretty well.  Wade forced Brad to get rid of the ball on a blitz.  Then the O-line jumped (only time all day) and they got chewed hard.  The coaches were screaming "fourth quarter in the red zone, that can't happen" about 10 times.  I got the point, I'm sure the linemen did too.  Then the D forced a fumble on the next play.

The ball was then moved to the 3 yd line.  This is when things picked up.  It was first team D vs. first team O.  On the first play Abron almost got in with some hard running, but was stopped on the 1.  Then the D got tough.  They stuffed Abron for no gain on the next play and stuffed Starks and the second team on their third play.  Then the 2nd team came in and Starks punched it home on them.  I thought the first
team D showed a lot of heart stopping the Abron twice in a row from the 1.  That was their best stand of the day.

5:50 Horn blows.
Offense and defense minus linemen.  The offense worked on WR blocking while the DB's worked to get off the blocks and make stops, Linemen work on technique off on their own.

6:00 Horn blows.
Punt return team practices. Every player not on this unit divides up with at his
respective position and drills.

6:05 Horn blows.
Players got out of pads and ran timed wind sprints.  The players are divided into three groups: WR/DB, linemen & RB/LB.

Nash is still favoring the knee, which caused him to struggle to keep up with the others.  Even though he was coming in last, he was out their gutting out each
sprint.  I found that pretty inspiring.  He is getting closer.

6:10  Stretch and team huddle.

It looks to me like Harrington and Scott are seeing about even time with the first unit.  I would be very surprised if he and Scott are not sharing the position early in the season and the best player will start to take over as the year goes along.  Deke is clearly one of the more imposing physical specimens on the team, now he just has to turn that into production on the field.  Nino Williams impressed me with his hitting
ability and playmaking ability.  The fight for the FS position is going to be a good one.  None of the LB's jumped out at me today.  Sweat probably played the best of the bunch.  Although they were hitting, they were not taking runners to the ground, so that made it hard to judge the LB's.  The CB's played fair.  The battle between Harden, Kincade, Washington and Curry looks like a good one.  Mitchell still has a ways to go, but he sure has the speed.  Sorry Toast, but there is no way Hibbits is going to be pushing Brad Smith this year.  Coleman and Riccio looked better to me.
The battle for the backup spot looks like it should be a good one.  I like Coleman's chances.  I think Overstreet may have made a good decision to go over to the D.  Simpson can still bring the lumber.  Bacon could challenge, but on this day Simpson looked pretty entrenched at the Whip. 

The clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped towards the end of practice, but for the most part it was a great spring day for football in Columbia.  I hope this gave you guys a small feel for how practice is run by coach Pinkel.

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